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Home / Factory Robots Hit Record 2.7 Million Globally

Factory Robots Hit Record 2.7 Million Globally

New installations have been down in the U.S., Europe, and China, due to slowdowns in automotive and electrical/electronic sectors, and Covid isn’t helping –– nevertheless, the number of industrial robots operating today has never been higher.

The U.S. is the largest industrial robot user in the Americas, reaching a new operational stock record of about 293.200 units – up 7%. year-over-year. Pictured: A cobot by KUKA
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The new World Robotics 2020 Industrial Robots report presented by the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) shows a record 2.7 million industrial robots operating in factories around the world – an increase of 12%. Sales of new robots remain on a high level with 373,000 units shipped globally in 2019. This is 12% less compared to 2018, but still the third highest sales volume ever recorded.

“The stock of industrial robots operating in factories around the world today marks the highest level in history,” said Milton Guerry, president of the International Federation of Robotics. “Driven by the success story of smart production and automation this is a worldwide increase of about 85% within five years (2014-2019). The recent slowdown in sales by 12% reflects the difficult times the two main customer industries, automotive and electrical/electronics, have experienced.

 

“In addition to that, the consequences from the coronavirus pandemic for the global economy cannot be fully assessed yet,” Guerry continued. “The remaining months of 2020 will be shaped by adaption to the ´new normal´. Robot suppliers adjust to the demand for new applications and developing solutions. A major stimulus from large-scale orders is unlikely this year. China might be an exception, because the coronavirus was first identified in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December 2019 and the country already started its recovery in the second quarter. Other economies report to be at the turning point right now. But it will take a few months until this translates into automation projects and robot demand. 2021 will see recovery, but it may take until 2022 or 2023 to reach the pre-crisis level.”

Americas Overview

The U.S. is the largest industrial robot user in the Americas, reaching a new operational stock record of about 293.200 units – up 7%. Mexico comes second with 40,300 units, which is a plus of 11% followed by Canada with about 28,600 units – plus 2%.

New installations in the U.S. slowed down by 17% in 2019 compared to the record year of 2018. Although, with 33,300 shipped units, sales remain on a very high level representing the second strongest result of all time. Most of the robots in the U.S. are imported from Japan and Europe. Although there are not many North American robot manufacturers, there are numerous important robot system integrators. Mexico ranks second in North America with almost 4,600 units – a slowdown of 20%. Sales in Canada are 1% up to a new record of about 3,600 shipped units.

South America´s number one operational stock is in Brazil with almost 15,300 units – plus 8%. Sales slowed down by 17% with about 1,800 installations – still one of the best results ever – only beaten by record shipments in 2018.

Worldwide Trend in Human-Robot Collaboration 

The adoption of human-robot collaboration is on the rise. IFR observes that cobot installations grew by 11%. This dynamic sales performance was in contrast to the overall trend with traditional industrial robots in 2019. As more and more suppliers offer collaborative robots and the range of applications becomes bigger, the market share reached 4.8% of the total of 373,000 industrial robots installed in 2019. Although this market is growing rapidly, it is still in its infancy.

Outlook 

Globally, COVID-19 has a strong impact on 2020 but also offers a chance for modernization and digitalization of production on the way to recovery. In the long run, the benefits of increasing robot installations remain the same: Rapid production and delivery of customized products at competitive prices are the main incentives. Automation enables manufacturers to keep production in developed economies – or reshore it – without sacrificing cost efficiency. The range of industrial robots continues to expand – from traditional caged robots capable of handling all payloads quickly and precisely to new collaborative robots that work safely alongside humans, fully integrated into workbenches.

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